Andrew Bluebond, the editor of The Port Side, latest editorial uses positive rights to argue in favor of the stimulus's birth control bonanza. He writes,
Pelosi and Obama should have argued that individual rights are useful only when individuals have the means to express them. I doubt that either of them believes that a woman’s right to control her body should be limited by her socioeconomic status, but that is the reality for many women in the United States. Women living in poverty are four times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy and five times more likely to have an unintended birth than women who live above the poverty line. The family planning funding in the stimulus plan would have increased the reproductive freedom of thousands of women, but both Obama and Pelosi let them down.
First, let's demolish Mr. Bluebond's argument about how "individual rights are useful only when individuals have the means to express them." Why should we be considered about the "utility" of rights? More often than not, rights push us into uncomfortable territory, but we recognize them nonetheless. Would you eliminate speech rights merely because they offend someone and are not "useful" to promoting a dialogue ? One should hope not. How about the right to self-defense? Would that be eliminated when, weight on a cost-benefit analysis scale, it was determined that it wasn't effective? Finally, if I am bigger than you, do I have more rights? (We'll return to that argument later when we look at so-called reproductive freedom.)
Even if we assume that Mr. Bluebond is correct -- that the stimulus plan would have increased the reproductive freedom of thousands of women -- that was not and should not have been the purpose of the stimulus. A stimulus is Keynesian economics is intended to increase consumption and therefore increase economic growth by use of the multiplier effect. Even if one believes in the Keynesian model, which I do not, you must concede that there are better multipliers out there than the individual birth control consumption of thousands of women. (We will stipulate that 1) such women exist and 2) that they are currently being denied access to birth control, which is something that Planned Parenthood claims it doesn't allow.) Infrastructure projects would seem a safer bet, given how many millions of people traverse our roads. It might even expand our economy (though to be fair, I favor privatization.)
Bluebond then makes this silly argument: that "family planning investments" -- just how does the government "invest" again? -- will help the economy.
Many have called the family planning funds an unnecessary gamble, but the move is both fiscally prudent and politically palatable. Family planning investments are often a net gain for governments. By reducing the services that they must provide in the future, governments reduce their future payouts on social welfare programs. Unlike many other transfer payments, subsidized family planning reduces costs by promoting choice. Making birth control available to women does not force a single person’s hand. The funding, which was not available for abortions, would have improved the lives of thousands of women who voluntarily sought services.By that logic, governments should subsidize smoking. After all, social security is a generational Ponzi scheme in which the base of the pyramid must be larger than the top. We want those smokers to pay in and then die off quickly. Similarly, we would want to subsidize women to have children, as some countries actually do, rather than discourage them by subsidizing their contraceptives.
What Bluebond really means to say is that an abortion is cheaper than raising a child and here he is exactly right. We can't fault his calculus. But I seem to recall so-called progressives getting awfully upset years prior when a certain Bill Bennett suggested that aborting black babies would lower the crime rate. (Of course Bennett, who is pro-life, merely answered a caller's theoretical question.) Bluebond, to his credit, makes no such distinction between black, white, Asian or Hispanic babies.
But we know well that it's a child, not a choice. If the fetus weren't, why is it that so many women regret their "choice"? Maybe President Obama was thinking about his own teenage mother who, thankfully, chose life.
Why doesn't Blubeond follow the argument to its logical conclusion? Voluntary sterilization. It seems to have worked so very well in India.